You know, Arthur Conan Doyle could have just crafted the Sherlock Holmes character, sat back, and still enjoyed the fan craze. But he didn’t.

He crafted a supporting (add-on, if you must) character - Dr. James Watson. He created Dr. Watson as a sounding board for Sherlock Holmes and as collective ears and eyes for the audience - and the rest is history!

Today we love Watson as much as we love Sherlock Holmes & can’t think of one without the other. Watson just added value to Holmes.

Well, health insurance and its add-ons are no different - the latter adds value to the existing plan, enabling policyholders to tap into the benefits of their current health insurance plans.

What are Health Insurance Plan Add-Ons?

Health insurance add-ons are optional and/or additional coverage that a policyholder can avail over their existing/base plan. This offers individuals multiple perks above and beyond those offered by their current health insurance policy.

Health insurance plan penetration has increased over the years. The popularity of these policies has been directly proportional to the rising awareness regarding the shooting cost of quality medical care and the unavoidable aspect of availing medical attention in due course. Additionally, health insurance is a financial security net against the anticipation of health scares to avoid the resulting financial crunch.

Naturally, following the cue, multiple players across the insurance industry surfaced. Each insurance provider offered varying features on their plans to ensure that policyholders could reap the benefits from the coverage. While the plans offered a generic coverage for policyholders, those seeking some additional financial padding on the side, like -

  1. Coverage boost
  2. No Claim Bonus protection
  3. Inflation-shield
  4. Consumable cost coverage
  5. Coverage for deliveries and newborns
  6. Options to do away with copayment options, and more.

-were offered add-ons on top of their base plans. These ensured that policyholders could enjoy customized financial benefits to cater to their medical requirements during hospitalization.

However, you know when you need clarification about which health insurance policy would suit you the best, then head over to our Health Insurance Comparison tool to help you with this because there are so many plans in the market.

Well, something similar happens with add-ons, too many in the market to decide from.

What are the different Health Insurance Add-Ons Available in the Market?

While all of the available add-ons seem tempting, not all of them would be your calling. So, why opt for a bundle of add-ons that can add to your premium? Rather choose ones that best cater to your requirements, enjoy a nominal premium boost, and reap their benefits.

Here are the best add-ons in the market that add value to your existing plan -

  1. Protector Rider

One of the most commonly availed health insurance riders, the protector rider is best offered by SafeGuard rider from Max Bupa, Care Shield from Care, and Protector from HDFC. This rider serves threefold purposes -

  • Offer coverage for consumables - Consumables across hospitalization include crepe bandages, oxygen masks, gloves, etc., often constituting an estimated 5% of the bill finalized. Usually, even with the best health insurance policies for 2023, consumables cost coverage is not an in-built feature. Thus, you end up paying for this from your pocket despite having no copayment clause in your plan. Now, while 5% might not seem much, please remember that with a hiked bill, you will be spending substantially despite availing of a health insurance plan.
    With the protector rider in place, your cost of consumables is covered.

  • Ensure No Claim Bonus shield - No Claim Bonus is a highly lucrative perk. With each claimless year, you get a % boost on your coverage sans any changes in your premium. However, you lose the cumulative bonus even if a small claim is raised. So, policyholders are pushed to weigh whether the claim amount raised is worth losing out on the bonus or whether they should pay out of their pockets since the bill is considerably small.
    Under such circumstances, a protector rider helps you safeguard your bonus if a small claim is raised. This threshold claim amount differs from one add-on to the other -
    Less than INR 50,000 in the case of SafeGuard rider from Max Bupa and Protector from HDFC
    Less than 25% of the sum insured, in the case of Care Shield from Care
    Subsequently, the No-Claim Bonus is left unaffected if the claim raised is lower than the aforementioned amount.

  • Protection against inflation - Medical inflation is inevitable and an alarming hurdle. As we stare at healthcare cost inflations, your premiums will also be subjected to hikes across the years. This means added financial strain for you, the policyholder.

However, you can get immunity against this inflation by availing of a protector rider that will ensure the payment of an unchanged and consistent premium, irrespective of the inflation across the healthcare industry.

2.  Unlimited Restoration/Recharge

A cost-saving rider, the restoration add-on is perfect considering cases of frequent hospitalization. Irrespective of the number of claims raised for hospitalization across an insurance year, your coverage is refilled to its full capacity soon after the claim is made. This means you can have complete coverage at your disposal during multiple hospitalizations.

But while insurance policies from the best health insurance companies in India already have unlimited restoration as a built-in feature, most plans across the market do not. And in that case, this is an excellent add-on for policyholders as it keeps your coverage filled to the brim despite claims made across the year.

(P.S. In some in-built and add-on restoration cover, the insurer offers you this benefit only if you utilize it for different ailments and not the same disease treatment again and again.)

3.  Copayment Waiver

One look at Health Insurance Guide, and you will know copayment is a strict no-no when choosing your health insurance policies. But, for

  • Those with certain pre-existing conditions that aren’t being covered by a majority of the plans across the market, or
  • Those seeking low-budget premiums
  • For those seeking plans in their retirement years (if they are not going for our chosen best senior citizen health insurance policies), copayments might be unavoidable;
  • Those who come across a coverage that provides it all and only has one downside - copay.

-the copay waiver add-on comes in handy.

While you will be paying a slightly higher premium, that is financially much less straining as compared to the copayment amount you will end up paying across each hospitalization.

4.  Hospital Cash

In case the sole bread earner of your family is hospitalized, the cash crunch is imminent. Additionally, your base health insurance policy might cover only some medical and non-medical costs and will burn a hole in your pocket.

Under the hospital cash add-on, your family is given adequate cash daily to cover such expenses. Based on the insurer and the coverage availed, the offered cash allowance can range from INR 1000 to INR 7500. Each insurer, however, requires the policyholder to be hospitalized for a certain number of days (a minimum of 24 hours is the most common).

5.  Maternity

The maternity health insurance coverage is available as - a standalone, in-built, and as an add-on. Now, it is true that some of the more popular plans across the industry do offer maternity coverage. However, such plans are rare. Thus, this rider can be the answer if you have found the perfect health insurance plan with just one drawback - no maternity coverage.

Nonetheless, here’s something you should keep in mind - when availing maternity coverage, you should consider a few drawbacks before purchasing the policy.  Take a look at our maternity health insurance plan blog to understand this better.

6.  Home care

There is a reason why we suggest you take up a health insurance plan while in your 20s and you are hale and hearty. You see, it is in your younger days that you get better plans with affordable features. Senior citizen health insurance policies become rare, pricey, and include fewer features as one age.

And on top of all these, if you are looking for advanced features like homecare where you can get coverage for nursing services during post-hospitalization, that’s nearly impossible.

The best option, in this case, would be to look at insurers that offer the Home Care add-on for your base insurance plan.

7.  International coverage and Enhanced global coverage

Say you are traveling abroad. You pack your clothes, electronics and accessories, essential documents, passports, currency exchanged as per the country of your visit, a book or two, your camera, and some emergency first aid essentials.

Now, unfortunately, against your best anticipation, if you are taken ill on foreign soil, and your first aid meds are unable to cure you, you will need to avail some advanced medical assistance. While the quality of medical care can be high, the costs will be exorbitant. Are you willing to spend your set-aside savings since your existing health insurance is less likely to offer you financial assistance?

So, those frequently traveling abroad can always add international coverage to their existing plan. However, if you are not a frequent flyer to foreign locations, travel insurances are a better alternative.

8.  Personal Accident Cover (term)

Accidents are, by definition, unfortunate surprises. However, anticipating the happenstance might help you with the financial burden this accident and its treatment might incur. So while you opt for bike/car insurance, make sure you also have a personal accident insurance policy.

However, please consider two things before you avail of this rider -

  1. While this feature is available as a separate add-on, most health insurance policies offer this feature as an in-built angle. No waiting period is exercised on this coverage, too, so policyholders are covered for any personal accident from Day 1 of the commencement of the health insurance plan.
  2. While coverage is now widely available in the health insurance industry, accidental coverage is much more beneficial when one takes in a life insurance policy. Under such circumstances, the policyholder and their family get a lumpsum amount in the case of a partial disability, total disability, or death following an accident.

9.  Critical Illness Cover (term)

Health insurance policies offer substantial cover for policyholders to meet their medical treatment costs via financial assistance. However, when it comes to pre-existing illnesses, insurers demand that policyholders undergo a certain waiting period before they can gain access to ample funding to meet their treatment charges.

However, even after the waiting period is covered, for those with critical ailments, a few problems may arise -

  1. The base plan has disease-wise sub-limits, which means the insurance funded is capped at a certain amount.
  2. Even if the disease-wise sub-limit doesn’t exist for your plan, the entire sum insured might fall short when dealing with an ailment that requires frequent hospitalizations.
  3. Your base insurance might not even provide coverage for a specific ailment.

Under such circumstances, one can easily opt for a critical ailment rider for their policy that offers coverage for a more comprehensive number of ailments and provides a high sum insured for the purpose.

However, here’s the issue with this rider - firstly, health insurance providers rarely provide a critical ailment add-on for their base policy; secondly, critical ailment add-ons are best when you avail of the top term insurance plans since you are then liable to a lumpsum amount in the case of a critical disease treatment.

Health Insurance Add-Ons Health insurance plans that offer this Add-On Major Feature of the Rider
Protector Rider HDFC Ergo Optima Restore Claim < INR 50,000
Care Freedom Plan
Care Advantage
Care Heart
Claim < 25% of the sum insured
Niva Bupa ReAssure
Niva Bupa Health Premia Gold
Niva Bupa Health Premia Platinum
Claim < INR 50,000
Unlimited Restoration/Recharge Care-Care If the benefits are used for different ailments.
Copayment Waiver Care Freedom Plan
Care Heart
<70 years: 10% copay waived
>70 years: 30% copay, reduced to 20%
Hospital Cash HDFC Ergo Optima Restore INR 3000- INR 6000
Up to a maximum of 30 days of hospitalization
Care-Care INR 1000/day
Up to a maximum of 10 days of hospitalization
Niva Bupa ReAssure For the sum insured of INR 5 lakhs, INR 1000/day
For the sum insured of INR 7.5 - 15 lakhs, INR 2000/day
For the sum insured beyond INR 15 lakhs, INR 4000/day
Minimum 48 hours of hospitalization
Up to a maximum of 30 days of hospitalization
Niva Bupa Health Premia Gold If the cover is 10-15 lakhs, INR 5000/day
Minimum 48 hours of hospitalization
Up to a maximum of 30 days of hospitalization
Niva Bupa Health Premia Platinum INR 7500/day
Minimum 48 hours of hospitalization
Up to a maximum of 30 days of hospitalization
Maternity Care Plus Youth For the sum insured of INR 10 lakhs, coverage = INR 25,000
For the sum insured of INR 5 lakhs, coverage = INR 15,000
Waiting period = 2 years
Home care Care Freedom Plan
Care Heart
INR 1000/ day for 7 days

5 things to remember when choosing a Health Insurance Rider

Health insurance riders are a common set of insurance tools across the industry. Each insurance provider has their queue of riders on their base health insurance plans. Choosing one among them can be confusing and cumbersome.


Please check the following factors for your top 5 add-ons:

  1. Coverage offered - Since you are opting for an add-on on your base health insurance policy, it is logical that the rider provides ample coverage to meet your customized requirements.
  2. Waiting period - Much like any health insurance plan, each add-on has a certain waiting period. Make sure that the rider you choose doesn’t come with an extensive waiting period because that would defeat the purpose of availing of an add-on for additional and emergency financial benefits.
  3. Exclusions - Even health insurance add-ons come with exclusions. Check the fine print or ask the insurer of your choice regarding the exclusions on the add-on plan.
  4. Premium - One of the major pros of add-ons is the nominal premiums that it demands. You enjoy added benefits over minimum premium hikes on your base health insurance policy.
There are multiple advantages and disadvantages of health insurance add-ons -
Riders come at nominal premiums, preventing unnecessary financial burdens on the policyholder.
The health insurance riders help you overcome some drawbacks and restrictions on your base health insurance policy, which is otherwise absolutely as per your requirements.
Customization of health insurance plans becomes feasible with riders.
Multiple niche-specific add-ons and riders are available for your base health insurance policy. However, you need to determine which exactly among them is relevant and suitable for your financial and medical requirements.
Tracking multiple policies and their premiums is cumbersome.